Minister for Immigration Peter Dutton has revealed that 72 asylum-seeker children and their families will be transferred from Australia to the “open” facility on Nauru within weeks.
“It has been the main priority of this government and my personal priority to remove as many children from detention as possible,” he told the Daily Telegraph yesterday.
According to the Minister, there are currently 79 children in onshore detention, seven of whom will remain there while their parents await security clearance.
“The majority of remaining children in detention are due to return to Nauru and the other few remaining cases are the most difficult where there may be a security issue with the parent for example,” he said.
The group of children — which includes 33 babies who were born in Australia — will join the 68 currently being held on the island and at least 80 others currently living in the Nauruan community.
The move has already been slammed by refugee advocates, health professionals and political opponents — especially because it comes ahead of a High Court judgement on the fate of refugee children in Australia’s care.
Greens immigration spokesperson Senator Hanson-Young told Mamamia that there is a political agenda at play: “These children are being used as pawns in a political battle and I’m very worried for their safety.”